Court of Appeals Opinions

Format: 04/16/2014
Format: 04/16/2014
Stanley Walker v. Bradley County Government, et al.
E2013-01053-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Michael Swiney
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Michael Sharp

This appeal arises out of an inmate’s allegedly improper early release from jail. Stanley Walker (“Walker”), alleging that he was improperly released early from jail because the authorities did not want to pay for his medical care, sued Bradley County and Capt. Gabriel Thomas (“the Defendants”) in the Circuit Court for Bradley County (“the Trial Court”). The Trial Court dismissed certain of Walker’s claims for failure to state a claim and ultimately granted summary judgment for the Defendants on the remaining claim. Walker timely appealed. We hold, inter alia, that Walker has no private right of action for being released early from jail, and we affirm the judgment of the Trial Court in its entirety.

Bradley County Court of Appeals 04/15/14
Bayrock Investment Co. v. Joseph D. Blankenship, M.D., et al.
W2013-01091-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge David R. Farmer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald H. Allen

This is a breach of contract case stemming from a commercial lease between Plaintiff Landlord and Defendant Tenants. Beginning in August 2011, Defendants failed to make rent payments in violation of their lease with Plaintiff. Plaintiff subsequently filed this lawsuit seeking damages specified in the lease. In response, Defendants raised the affirmative defense of unclean hands, contending that Plaintiff breached the lease first by objecting to and/or interfering with Defendants’ right under the lease to sublease the property without Plaintiff’s consent. The trial court granted summary judgment to Plaintiff, finding that Defendants failed to perform under the lease by failing to pay rent, and finding no genuine issue of material fact regarding any allegation that Plaintiff interfered with Defendant’s ability to sublease the property. The Defendants argue that summary judgment was inappropriate because there exists a genuine issue of material fact regarding whether Bayrock breached the lease first by interfering with Defendants’ right to sublease. We disagree and affirm the trial court’s grant of summary judgment to Plaintiff.

Madison County Court of Appeals 04/15/14
Laurel Hills Condominiums Property Owners' Association v. Tennessee Regulatory Authority
M2013-01392-COA-R12-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Andy D. Bennett
Trial Court Judge: Director David F. Jones

A water utility challenges the authority of the Tennessee Regulatory Authority to order it to divest itself of the water system and to continue providing service until the sale. We find no error in the actions of the Tennessee Regulatory Authority.

Court of Appeals 04/14/14
In Re Grayson H.
E2013-01881-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas R. Frierson, II
Trial Court Judge: Judge Timothy E. Irwin

This is a termination of parental rights case, focusing on Grayson H., the minor child (“Child”) of Steven H. (“Father”) and Jessica L. (“Mother”). The Child was taken into protective custody by the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services (“DCS”) on March 9, 2012, following Father’s incarceration and Mother’s subsequent arrest. Mother’s parental rights to the Child were terminated in a separate proceeding. On October 17, 2012, DCS filed a petition to terminate the parental rights of Father. Following a bench trial held on July 11, 2013, the trial court granted the petition upon its finding, by clear and convincing evidence, that (1) Father had abandoned the Child by showing wanton disregard for the Child’s welfare and (2) the conditions causing the removal of the Child into protective custody persisted. The court further found, by clear and convincing evidence, that termination of Father’s parental rights was in the Child’s best interest. Father has appealed. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Knox County Court of Appeals 04/14/14
LeAnn Barnes v. David Ellett Barnes
M2012-02085-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Alan E. Highers
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor J. B. Cox

Following a five-day divorce trial, the trial court valued and divided the parties’ sizeable marital estate, awarded $6,000 per month in alimony in futuro to Wife, and declined to award attorney’s fees to either party. On cross-motions to alter or amend, the trial court altered its division of marital property as to several assets, and it modified the alimony award from $6,000 per month in alimony in futuro to $4,300 per month in rehabilitative alimony for four years. Wife then filed another post-trial motion, pro se, which the trial court denied. Wife appeals. We affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand for such other proceedings as may be necessary.

Bedford County Court of Appeals 04/10/14
Brenda S. Harper v. William H. Harper
M2013-01514-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Richard H. Dinkins
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Michael R. Jones

The parties to this proceeding were divorced in 2003; in the final decree, Wife was awarded one-half of Husband’s military retirement. In 2005, the court modified the final decree to provide that the portion of Husband’s retirement pay designated for his disability benefits was not marital property and, therefore, was not to be included in the amount Wife received from Husband. Wife filed a contempt proceeding in 2011 alleging that Husband was failing to pay her the amount of his retirement pay he was required to pay. In March 2012, following a hearing, the trial court entered an order in which it did not find Husband to be in contempt; Wife thereafter filed various motions seeking to have the court modify the manner in which Husband was computing the amount she would receive. Wife appeals the denial of relief. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Montgomery County Court of Appeals 04/10/14
Jesse Bentley v. Wellmont Health System, et al
E2013`01956`COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge John W. McClarty
Trial Court Judge: Judge John S. McLellan, III

This is a health care liability action in which Defendants sought dismissal, claiming that the action was barred by the three-year statute of repose, codified at Tennessee Code Annotated section 29-26-116, as interpreted by Calaway v. Schucker, 193 S.W.3d 509 (Tenn. 2005). Plaintiff alleged that the Court’s interpretation of the statute was unconstitutional as applied to his case. The trial court disagreed and dismissed the case. Plaintiff appeals. We affirm the decision of the trial court.

Sullivan County Court of Appeals 04/10/14
Christina A. Brown, et al v. Marisol Juarez, et al.
E2013-00979-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge John W. McClarty
Trial Court Judge: Judge David Reed Duggan

This appeal involves Plaintiffs’ motion to set aside an order to dismiss for failure to prosecute in a personal injury action. The trial court denied the motion. Plaintiffs appeal. We affirm the decision of the trial court.

Blount County Court of Appeals 04/10/14
Daniel Anthony Norfleet v. Audra Ann Norfleet
M2013-00652-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Patricia J. Cottrell
Trial Court Judge: Judge Ross H. Hicks

This is an appeal from a finding of contempt. When the parents of a six year old girl divorced, they agreed to name the father as the child’s primary residential parent. The mother subsequently acted in a hostile and uncooperative way towards the father, and her parenting time was reduced. Shortly thereafter, the father filed a petition for contempt, alleging that the mother had failed to pay court-ordered child support for four consecutive months. Following a hearing, the trial court held the mother in contempt. She argues on appeal that the trial court erred by trying criminal and civil contempt in the same proceeding. She also argues that the trial court’s order was invalid, because it did not specifically state that her actions were “willful.” We affirm the trial court.

Montgomery County Court of Appeals 04/09/14
Denzil Russ Partin v. Gary Perkins, in his capacity as Campbell County Sheriff
E2013-02000-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Per Curiam
Trial Court Judge: Judge John D. McAfee

This is an appeal from a final order entered on July 8, 2013. The Notice of Appeal was not filed until August 9, 2013, more than (30) days from the date of entry of the order to which it is directed. Because the Notice of Appeal was not timely filed, we have no jurisdiction to consider this appeal.

Campbell County Court of Appeals 04/09/14
Pepper & Brothers P.L.L.C. v. Brett Jones
M2013-01668-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Senior Judge Ben H. Cantrell
Trial Court Judge: Judge Philip E. Smith

A homeowner who was sued by a contractor hired an attorney to defend against the suit. The homeowner and the attorney entered into a contract where by the attorney would charge $225 per hour, calculate the bill in quarter hour increments and bill monthly. The homeowner made his monthly payments as the litigation progressed, but after he became dissatisfied with the service he was getting, he stopped paying . He subsequently discharged the attorney and hired other counsel. The attorney sent the homeowner a final bill for $8,529. The homeowner paid $4,000 and offered to settle the remainder for a lesser amount. The attorney refused and brought suit against the homeowner for the unpaid balance. The trial court entered judgment in favor of the attorney. We affirm.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 04/04/14
In Re: Ty-Shawn H.
E2013-02259-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Michael Swiney
Trial Court Judge: Judge Sharon M. Green

The Juvenile Court for Johnson City (“the Juvenile Court”) terminated the parental rights of Frank G. (“Father”) to the minor child Ty-Shawn H. (“the Child”) pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-1-113(g)(6). Father appeals the termination of his parental rights to this Court. We find and hold that clear and convincing evidence existed to terminate Father’s parental rights pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-1-113(g)(6), and that clear and convincing evidence existed that the termination was in the Child’s best interest. We, therefore, affirm the Juvenile Court’s order terminating Father’s parental rights to the Child.

Washington County Court of Appeals 04/04/14
In Re: Hannah W., et al.
E2013-02384-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Michael Swiney
Trial Court Judge: Judge Dennis Humphrey

The Juvenile Court terminated the parental rights of Ralph D.M. (“Father”) to the minor twin children Alexis W. and Hannah W. (“the Children”) on the grounds of abandonment by willful failure to visit pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-1-113(g)(1) and § 36-1-102(1)(A)(i), substantial noncompliance with the permanency plan pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-1- 113(g)(2), and persistent conditions pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-1-113(g)(3). Father appeals the termination of his parental rights asserting that he is neither the biological father nor the legal father of the Children and, therefore, had no parental rights to the Children to be terminated. We find and hold that the evidence does not preponderate against the Juvenile Court’s finding by clear and convincing evidence that Father is the Children’s legal father, that grounds existed to terminate Father’s parental rights, and that the termination of Father’s parental rights was in the Children’s best interest. We affirm the termination of Father’s parental rights to the Children.

Roane County Court of Appeals 04/03/14